Disinformation is verifiably false or misleading information created, presented and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public. It may have far-reaching consequences, cause public harm, undermine the trust of citizens in institutions and media, be a threat to democratic political and policy-making processes (e.g elections), and may even put the protection of EU citizens' health, security and their environment at risk.
The EU has been actively fighting against disinformation since 2015.
The European Council decision of March 2015 established the East StratCom Task Force under the European External Action Service to better address and respond to the Russian Federation’s disinformation campaigns. In 2016, the European Commission adopted the Joint Framework to counter hybrid threats, followed by a joint announcement in 2018 „EU works to build resilience and better counter hybrid threats“.
In April 2018, the Commission proposed an EU-wide code of practice for tackling online disinformation which included measures for supporting an independent European network of fact-checkers and quality journalism. On 16 October the code of practice was signed by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla, also online platforms and associations representing advertising industry and advertisers.
In December 2018, an Action Plan against Disinformation was adopted. The Action Plan protects democracy and public debate in view of the European Parliament elections in 2019, but also parliamentary and municipal elections in many member states until 2020.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of 2020, the European Commission has closely cooperated with online platforms encouraging to promote reliable sources and remove disinformation.
Keywords: European Union, post-truth era, disinfo(rmation), false information, fake news, European Parliament elections, information war, information warfare, internet manipulation, hybrid threats, fact checking, political communication, subversive leverage, Russia, propaganda, information evaluation, critical thinking, information competencies, media literacy